Monday, June 29, 2015

Trout Lake Report: You're Cool

The heat wave seems to be peaking.

You could stay cool by following the example of your grandson.

Or you could slip off to the lake and sit in the water in the tube for awhile.

You're at the far south end for the first time this season. It's the first time the campground here has been deserted. This is a lovely part of the lake with a personality of its own. It's a pleasure to explore its waters again.

Things are awfully slow, though. You don't find any sign of fish until you get around to the little channel back into the pond. You see two fish working the damselflies--or maybe it's the same fish.

You've been casting a damsel dry, so you try to get it into their window. It takes awhile, but you finally get a take after dead-drifting the fly in the breeze. You take a quick photo and get the fish back in out of the heat.

If it was slow before, it gets slower. But you're cool with that. So you kick back and kick around, still fishing, but mostly enjoying the evening as it goes through its changes.

And, on what will likely be the hottest day of the year, you're not only cool with that--you're cool.

Dude, Check This Out: Son Volt

The music is back.

In their last issue This Is Fly featured Wrinkle Neck Mules in their mixtape. That got me dipping into alternate country again. Lots of good stuff out there. Gives me flashbacks to my youth when the early Eagles, Pure Prairie League, and Poco were part of the soundtrack of my life.

It was good to rediscover Son Volt.

They've explored various instrumentations over the years, and moved up and down along the rock/country and acoustic/electric spectrums. (They played Lollapalooza in 2007.) For my money, the honky tonk sound of their latest album--the 2013 release titled Honky Tonk--is Son Volt at their best. And the 2007 song Highways and Cigarettes stands as their masterpiece.

It takes me back to all those long roads I've been down.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Trout Lake Report: That Felt Good

The heat wave has settled in. It's over 100 degrees when you head for the lake.

You're back at the channel. You fling a damsel dry for awhile, but the fish are keeping to themselves.

Still, you find it relaxing to look for them here and there, and you're enjoying the beauty of the summer lake, and the transformation of the light from afternoon to evening.

When the west shoreline is in shadow you switch to a pretty stimulator. Sometimes you're in the mood for a stimulator.

You start down the willow line exploring for fish. Things stay slow. The only "rise" you see is caused by a beaver who blundered too close and panic-slapped the surface.

As usual, though, you're enjoying the activity of fishing. The beauty around you keeps changing.

You feel things crawling on your neck: damsel nymphs. You think about fishing a damsel nymph fly, but you don't have any with you. And you really don't want to, anyway. You like what you're doing.

You kick across to the eastern shoreline.

A damselfly lands on your hand. You wonder how the midge got there at the same time, but when the midge moves and the damselfly grabs it, you decide that the damselfly brought it along. It appears to be eating the hapless midge, but you brush it off before it finishes.

You're still enjoying the fishing, but you would be happy to have a little catching, too.

You finally see a fish working the willows with jumps and splashes. You get the fly inside some overhanging willows, and the fish takes it like a breaching whale. It's jacked up, and doesn't give in without a fight.

That felt good.

You hang out in the channel while dusk falls. Bats are thick, nighthawks are calling, and ducks whoosh overhead.

A fish is jumping in the willows by the take out, and you see damselflies still hovering over the surface. So you tie on a damsel dry by the last of the light and cast blind into the shoreline for awhile.

No luck. You reel in and hook the fly in the keeper on the rod. Now you'll have a damsel ready to go the next time you come back.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Trout Lake Report: Half Moon, Full Brown

Another hot day. The lake calls.

You work the north end shorelines again.

You start with a damsel dry but find no fish targeting them.

Over by the inlet you switch to a muddler.

You wake up some fish with it.

You cross back over and work the shoreline there.

Things are still slow along this stretch, until you get to a landmark log. When you first started fishing this lake the log was still a tall tree. Now it's one of your regular casting zones.

You put the fly right next to the log. You're looking at the fly when it just disappears. No splash, no ripple, no dimple, no sign of a take at all. It's just gone.

So of course you set, and come up on a fine, husky rainbow who gives you a run for your money.

On down the shoreline, but no more fish except small fry.

So you work on around to the other side again. Ducklings panic and scatter at your approach, then are reunited with their mama.

You work inside the reeds along the willows.

You pass a red-winged blackbird nest that you've left alone before. Today you reach up with the camera to see what's inside.

They knew you were there before you knew they were there.

You keep working the reeds. You find a fish on the edge.

You get back to the inlet. There are some small fish holding just outside the mouth. You get several hits and misses before you manage to hook one.

While you're doing that, a good-sized brown launches himself out of the water inside the inlet and flies into the willows with a big commotion. So you sneak up and go for him.

You get a hit, and your heart stops for a minute, but it's a false alarm.

You keep looking, but that's it. If that brown is still in there, he's not coming for your muddler. You're glad he was there, though. This has been a brown hangout in years past, and maybe they're finding their way back again. You'll get him next time--and all his friends.

You move on up the shoreline away from the inlet.

You get to a favorite spot. You just worked it over a couple of hours ago, but it's dusk now, the time when big fish look for big flies.

You cast methodically along the willow edge until that magic moment when the fly hits and a fish is instantly on it. You know right away it's a good fish. You raise the rod high and strip like mad, and manage to keep him out of the weeds. But he fights hard, and your wrist is tired by the time you get his head up. Usually fish settle down when they find themselves gazing into a foreign environment. This fish fights all the harder. By the time you get him in the net you're soaked from the water splashed up by his churning tail.

But that's OK.

You catch a few more rainbows after that, but they don't seem to count. You kick back across to the truck. There's a half moon rising, but that, you think to yourself, was a full brown.